Public service leadership is a broad field that encompasses areas of nonprofit management and public administration.

Developing skills in these areas can be achieved through either a Doctor of Public Administration or a PhD in Nonprofit Management.

Both degrees focus on theories within their respective fields, as well as how to apply the theories. Both programs also focus on areas of leadership and ethics. So what makes these degree programs different and what outcomes can you expect from each? How do you choose which path is right for you?

It may be helpful to start by asking yourself the question: Are you more interested in developing new bodies of research or applying existing research and knowledge to solve policy and public administration problems?

 

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If focusing on developing new bodies of research is your answer, consider a PhD in Nonprofit Management.

A PhD in Nonprofit Management offers students the opportunity to become proficient in independent research in areas such as nonprofit organizational development and management, strategic planning, diverse population needs assessment, and volunteer development. In this program, you should expect to learn about research designs and methods, to advance knowledge in the field, and to contribute to theory. You’ll also learn to critically evaluate your work and the work of others.

You will develop leadership skills in strategic planning, fundraising and stewardship, volunteer development, and financial analysis and reporting. This degree is well suited for students who want to focus on nonprofits whether as executive leaders, consultants, educators, or researchers.

A PhD in Nonprofit Management program includes coursework such as:

  • Diversity in the Workplace
  • Leadership, Governance, and Ethics
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Public Service
  • Nonprofit Marketing, Public Policy, and Advocacy

Related job titles to explore include:

  • Chief advancement officer
  • Director of community engagement
  • Director of training
  • Adjunct, part-time, or full-time faculty

 

If applying existing research and knowledge to solve policy and public administration problems is your focus, consider a DPA.

A Doctor of Public Administration program focuses on topics related to public policy and public administration. One of the main goals of the program is to help students learn how to integrate theory and practice in the process of policy making. The competencies developed within this program will help solve a range of specific public administration problems and policy issues.

While a DPA could serve you well in a nonprofit career, it may be better suited for positions in government or public policy. Additionally, some institutions may hire a DPA with a policy background to teach courses in public administration or public policy from an applied perspective, where a PhD may or may not possess this applied background.

A Doctor of Public Administration program includes coursework such as:

  • Public Needs and Assessment Planning
  • Global and Diverse Societies
  • Ethics and Social Responsibility
  • Public Administration and Community Collaboration

Related job titles to explore include:

  • Congressional policy advisor
  • Economic development director
  • Lobbyist
  • Policy analyst

 

 

Capella University offers a PhD in Nonprofit Management and Doctor of Public Administration degree program.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.
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